Theater Group Presents Beauty & the Beast

By: Jessica Dealy Email
By: Jessica Dealy Email

Mondays can be tough on all of us, but about 600 elementary and preschool students chased the Monday Blues with a much anticipated field trip to see Beauty & the Beast at Meridian's Temple Theater.

"They get to do a field trip once a year and today, second and third grade got to come to this," said Brandy Vance of Leake Academy.

There were children from all over east-central Mississippi and west Alabama completely absorbed in the famous fairy tale.

The actors playing the roles of the famous Belle and her Beast were not from the area. In fact, the man in the beast costume says he and the actors working for the company, American Theater Arts for Youth,
have been on the road, touring the United States for the past several months.

"Our company is located in Philadelphia, Penn., and a lot of our actors are from New York," said James Nester. "Some of us are from Pennsylvania, others are from New Jersey. So, we are from all around different areas."

The cast has four more months on the road. Its performance at Meridian's Temple Theater was only one of the five shows they put on every week from a different location.

"We are all enjoying it. We are all having a great time," Nester said. "We love performing for the kids and all of their reactions, their eyes sparkling bright. their faces lighting up; it's just great."

The play was such a hit with our local children, theater owner Roger Smith plans on having the company return again in the near future.

"We have partnered with them to try to bring more of things like this to Meridian," Smith said. "This was the first one we've done, but we actually have another one coming up later on in the year."

Theater Arts for the Youth has been doing productions for 40 years. Its shows are seen by 1.2 million students annually.

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